Religious liberties in danger.
Religious liberties are in danger in Finland, and Christianity has a giant target on its back.
In a court case with monumental implications, a pastor and a member of the Finnish Parliament are on trial for their faith. Juhana Pohjola, 49, faces criminal charges for teaching the Christian word that has been established for thousands of years.
Pohjola has ministered to small delegations of only dozens and has worked a lifetime building a tight-knit network of churches across Finland. Many of the humble churches started as a handful of people gathering for Bible study, singing hymns, prayer, and communion.
Many of the humble churches started as a handful of people gathering for Bible study, singing hymns, prayer, and communion.
But Pohjola’s life work faces a harrowing test of persecution when he and Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen go to trial on January 24th.
What’s the accusation against Pohjola and Räsänen?
The Federalist wrote:
Rasanen’s alleged crimes in a country that claims to guarantee freedom of speech and religion include tweeting a picture of a Bible verse. Potential penalties if they are convicted include fines and up to two years in prison.
Finnish Authorities: The Bible Is Hate Speech
Rasanen and Pohjola are being charged with “hate speech” for respectively writing and publishing a 24-page 2004 booklet that explains basic Christian theology about sex and marriage, which reserves sex exclusively for within marriage, which can only consist of one man and one woman, for life. The Finnish prosecutor claims centuries-old Christian teachings about sex “incite hatred” and violate legal preferences for government-privileged identity groups.
For a country that supposedly believes in free speech and religion, this prosecution is nothing more than a witch hunt.
The American Conservative noted:
Päivi Räsänen is a member of the Finnish Parliament from the Christian Democratic Party, and a practicing Lutheran. She is also facing hate speech investigations for having questioned publicly her own church leaders’ decision to affirm LGBT pride. Now, the Finnish police have expanded the investigation to consider charges against her over a 2004 pamphlet she wrote defending the Lutheran Church’s traditional teaching about marriage (which entails denying that same-sex marriage is a real marriage). It’s worth noting that Räsänen wrote that pamphlet seven years before LGBT was added to the national hate-speech law as a protected class. She was investigated once before for the pamphlet, and cleared — but now she’s going to undergo another interrogation.
Below is a screenshot of the tweet that started the persecution:
Pohjola and Räsänen have faced relentless interrogation from police about their theology, and Finnish authorities admit their interpretation of Finland’s law makes publishing the Bible a hate crime.
The case is expected to have major international implications for freedom of speech and religious liberty in Western society.
The Federalist explained:
“Although all European countries have these hate speech laws, and these hate speech laws are increasingly being used against citizens for things that they say, this is the first time we’ve really seen Christians face criminal prosecution for explaining their biblical views,” Coleman said. “…It’s unprecedented. We’ve not seen attacks on free speech on this level in Europe, and that’s why they are extremely important cases, not just for the people of Finland and Paivi Rasanen and the bishop themselves, but for all of Europe. If this is upheld in one jurisdiction, we will no doubt see it in other jurisdictions as well.”
Such “hate speech” laws exist in every European country and Western countries such as Canada and Australia, and descend from Soviet influence. Coleman called them “sleeper laws,” saying that in other countries “they could be used any time just like they are in Finland. People need to mobilize against these laws and overturn them.”
ADF International is providing legal support for the cases and noted the grave dangers to freedom of speech:
“Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy. The Finnish Prosecutor General’s decision to bring these charges against Dr. Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely, ”said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International and author of “Censored“.
Learn more about the case in the video below: